It is not uncommon that as humans age, they experience a decrease in their quality of sleep which ultimately can have a negative effect on their quality of life (QOL). This decrease in sleep quality may manifest itself as difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, achieving deep sleep and decreased daytime alertness. The long term effects of these issues can result in both physical and cognitive decline as well as an overall decrease in the individual’s QOL.
Although pharmacological interventions may help decrease quality of sleep issues, they often present side effects which can negatively affect an individual’s QOL. Yoga has been shown to be a safe and effective intervention to address quality of sleep issues in the elderly population. “Yoga is a combination of various postures, breathing techniques, and meditation.” Previous studies have shown that Yoga can be used to reduce blood pressure, relieve anxiety, and decrease depression. Yoga has now been shown to have a “significant” positive affect on sleep disturbances.
One study looked at previous research which showed that participating in Yoga for one hour daily for six months caused a reduction in time to fall asleep, stay asleep, improvement in overall sleep quality and a decrease in the need for sleep medications (compared with a control group.) All of these improvements have a positive impact on an individual’s QOL.
The same study showed that the beneficial effect of Yoga on the sleep quality of elderly people continued for up to five years as long as the practice of Yoga was continued. When combined with other proven benefits of engaging in Yoga, improving the quality of sleep of an older person can have a positive domino effect on the QOL of that individual.